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The Poles in the New Europe: Looking for Bread Abroad

16 Mar 2006 /  #1
The current unemployment rate in Poland is around 20% and climbing, thanks to the new Polish government under the new prime minister, Mr. Marcinkiewicz, that in the first three months of his reign has managed to add yet another 150,000 people to the unemployment queue.

No wonder that many Poles, especially of the young generation, are looking to the opportunities within the EU. As the British ambassador to Poland stated jokingly, the British government has created more jobs for the Poles in the UK, than the Polish government managed to create in Poland, by employing 200,000 Polish jobseekers in the UK.

The fact is that Poland is not doing well. There are many factors at hand here, not the least the opening of the economy allowing foreign ownership and free imports that has put many Polish companies out of business. Also the strength of the Polish currency makes it unprofitable to produce in Poland rather than import, such as food from Germany, shoes from Italy, ties from France. It sure sounds good, except that it means less workplaces for the Poles in Poland.

Thus, for many Poles, looking abroad for a job is the only option. It's really nothing new - the Poles have a long history of migration. Already before the first world war a lot of Poles chose to move to countries in South America, like Argentina or Brazil, or to the US, and the fate of the Polish emigrant has been recorded in sad songs about the proverbial mountaineer stranded abroad while longing to his beloved Tatra-mountains, or in books like "The Lamplighter."

Thus, not surprisingly, as the result of the earlier migration there is a large number of Poles living in the US, especially in Chicago, the home of over a million Poles.

After the Second World War, for over fifty years of the socialist regime, Poland had been a closed country. The situation had changed drastically in 1994 after Poland's entrance into the EU. Today, any Polish citizen can move freely within the new Europe.

But all is not as positive as it seems. Although it is true that the Poles can go as they wish within the EU, only a few of its members allow the Poles to work. Only Germany, the UK, Ireland and Sweden allow the Poles unlimited access to work.

It is easy enough to go to abroad, but getting a job is not. The language is a major obstacle. If you do not know the language it is only the most menial jobs that are available and the income is low, while the cost of living and housing in the West is high. The fact of a working visit abroad can unfortunately often be unappealing, the potential savings eaten up by the everyday expenses. But if you are a single, prepared to share your flat with a number of others in similar situation and eat junk for the time of your stay, you might get back with substantial savings, that will allow you to buy a small business or a flat.

Many Poles fancy themselves as language experts, particularly when it comes to English. No wonder they are shocked once confronted with the everyday English spoken in the street or at the work-place, and it's nothing like the language spoke in Hollywood movies or on the BBC.

There are also problems with the native workers and their unions protesting against the Poles working for next to nothing and taking their workplaces. The French don't want Polish plumbers, the English protest against employing Polish welders, the Belgians strike against employing Poles in their food factory. Not all are happy to see a Pole jobseeker undercutting their wages and taking their jobs. But the Polish are here to stay - as it seems they've run out of options.

And Poland unfortunately looks more and more as a provider of cheap labor rather than an equal EU-member, thus, taking over the place previously reserved for the Turks, Greeks, Portuguese and Spanish. The outflow of the Poles looking for work witness more about the sorry state of the Polish economy than about the real opportunities created by the EU.
17 Mar 2006 /  #2
Poland maybe provides cheap labour, but it's not that cheap to live there now for a foreigner (since US dollar is cheap now..)
8 Apr 2006 /  #3
The official unemloyment rate in Poland is 17,8% ...while the real unemployment rate is around 10% cose many of the unemployed have jobs, but prefer to avoid paying the high social security costs while reciving free social security from the state.
8 Apr 2006 /  #4
...and the Polish economy looks fine: this year we`re going to have a record year when it comes to forgein investments, yesterday there was a record on the stockmarket.. the GDP is growing more than 4% per year, the inflation is low and the budget deficit is lower than expected.

Jeez who`s writing such articles.. :)
glowa 1 | 291  
8 Apr 2006 /  #5
i pretty much agree with the article, except for the part about language abailities.

remember that to find a job, English is only valid in GB. in other countries you can use it on holidays. what the Poles are recognised for in this matter is the ability to learn a local language to the level of a comfortable conversation in no-time. and comfortable conversation I mean understand/being understood, while not necessarily speaking grammaticaly perfect.

that's where the feeling of being an "expert" (i wouldn't use that word, though) comes to the picture.
8 Apr 2006 /  #6
The article is way too melo-dramatic.
8 Apr 2006 /  #7
The official unemloyment rate in Poland is 17,8% ...while the real unemployment rate is around 10% cose many of the unemployed have jobs, but prefer to avoid paying the high social security costs while reciving free social security from the state.

I don't know where you take the "real" unemployment from, but in reality it's not 10% but almost 35%!!! You may ask why? Well, take millions all Poles who work abroad in Germany or England and bring them to Poland. Half of them will NOT find a job in Poland (no education, low skills, etc.). So the fact that the European job market has opened for Poland only blurrs the real unemployment rate in Poland.
8 Apr 2006 /  #8
@Mack Have you`ve ever tried hiring workers in Poland ? Here`s a very good article about that issue:

(Many unemployed Poles are ready to issue a bribe to be able not to work in a legal job)

Bezrobocie widmo
Tygodnik "Wprost", Nr 1194 (23 października 2005)

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Another article: "Work dosn`t pay. There are 14 thousand unemployed in Walbrzych, but companies have dificoulties in finding new workers"

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// Edited: no text in Polish please - Admin
8 Apr 2006 /  #9
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Another article: Klodzko has an unemployment rate of 25%, but an employer couldn`t find anyone to work as a waitress"

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Another article: From Rzeczpospolita: there are 1,3 million Poles working in the black economy.

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// Edited: no text in Polish please - Admin
8 Apr 2006 /  #10
I could continue without an end.

It`s all becaouse of ZUS which dosn`t allow employers to put more money into people`s pockets.

I don`t know if you`re courrently in Poland or not. But if you are in Poland you even don`t have to have any access to statistics and you don`t have to be an economist to see with your bare eye that this country dosn`t have a 17,8% ...or 35% unemployment rate cose if it would then this place would look like Nigeria, Marocco or Sudan. You`ll just have to look around - or where do you think all those pople on the street take the money to buy new cars, appartments and fancy clothing ? If you nat to see a country with a 35-40% unemployment you can visit Afganistan or Iraq, cose Afganistan has a 40% unemployment rate and Iraq has 25-30% unemployment. To see the unemployment rate in different countries around the World you can visit:

..and now please compare the living standards of the 20% unemployment-rate countries with the living standards in Poland. Don`t you find it "somewhat wierd" that the official unemployment figures in Poland are about the same level as in those in the West Bank, Sudan, Lebanon or Gabon ?

<i>// Edited: no text in Polish please - Admin</i>
8 Apr 2006 /  #11
Well, the living standards are high for those who have a good-paying job. YOu can go to Bangladesh and will find people who are better off than many in the USA for example.

You are right about ZUS though - the employer has to pay 800ZL (about $250) for each worker every month - so to make profit he cannot pay more than, let's say, another 800Zl a MONTH for this worker.
9 Apr 2006 /  #12

Have you ever been in Bangladesh od do you know any economic data about that country ? I think not cose then you wouldn`t make such comparsions.

Bangladesh has a GDP (PPP) per capita

(PPP - means that the given $ value is adjusted to how much that given amount of $ is worth in that specific country - so i.e. if a person earns some $250 in Poland then the PPP value of those $250 would be around $400 cose if you`d spend those $250 in the US you`d be able to buy goods and services worth $250 while if you`d be spending them in Poland you`d be able to purchase goods and services worth $400)

So (according to the UN/CIA):

The GDP (PPP) per capita in Bangladesh last year was: $2,100
The GDP (PPP) per capita in Poland last year was: $12,700

So if we`d take into consideration the differences between in living costs/prices in both countries then Bangladesh is 6 times poorer than Poland.

If we would use the same comparsion as you did, without taking into consideration the differences in prices between the different countries then according to the World Bank :

The GNI (the GNI in general is has almost the same value as the GDP if a country dosnt take most of its income from abroad) (according to the courrent exchange value) per capita in 2004 in Bangladesh was equal to: $440

The GDP (according to the courrent exchange value) per capita in 2004 in Poland was equal to: $6,090.0

So, this way you can see that Bnagladesh is almost 14x poorer than Poland (not to mention that Poland is a developed, post industrial country, while Bangladesh is a rural developing economy)

I understand that you want to imply here that, according to you there are some huge differences between people who have higher income and those with a lower income (this is a tipicla way of thinking for those who had lived most of their lives under communism and after their country transformed into a market economy, thinks that it is unusual that some people earn more than the other)

So lets compare the GINI coefficient. This indicator indicates the inequality between the highest and the lowest incomes in a specific country whereby 0 means perfect equality and 100 means perfect inequality:

So, according to the UN the GINI value in 2005 was:

Denmark: 24,7
Japan: 24,9
Germany: 28,3
Belarus: 30,4
Bangladesh: 31,8
Poland: 34,3
Greece: 35,4
Israel: 35,5
Ireland: 35,9
UK: 36
Italy: 36
Portugal: 38,5
China: 44,7
USA: 46,6
Brazil: 59,9

So whad doeas all of this say ? Compared to the rest of the World the differences between high income and low income are quite normal and as a matter of fact Poland belongs to those countries where that difference is quite small.
9 Apr 2006 /  #13
Well, I was not in Bangladesh but I was in Costa Rica. What I meant - there ARE people in "poorer" countries in Poland who live much better than in other western countries...
9 Apr 2006 /  #14
There are also some people in Poland who are much richer than most people in Switzerland as well as there some people in Switzerland that are much poorer than most people in Poland. Is that bad ?

Beside a country is rich when it`s rich the same way a country is poor when it`s poor.

Costa Rica isn`t "poor" it is poor compared to Poland as well as it is a developing country.
9 Apr 2006 /  #15
No, it's not bad to be rich - but in Post #10 Guest claims that there is enough jobs in Poland but most Poles just don't want to work. I agree there may be enough jobs - but 90% of them are VERY LOW PAYING jobs. Like 600-800zl a month (200-50 usd a month). It's true, however, that there are many Poles that are just too lazy and choose to do nothing rather than work even for the low pay. But on ther other hand, being a young man or woman in Poland and not to have any hope for a better paying job makes them leave Poland to look for a better future abroad. Especially that they make at least 3-5 times more for the same job abroad than they would have made in Poland.
9 Jun 2006 /  #16
there is no unlimited access to work in Germany. the law change last month to Spain and Portugal. Finland now has a sizeable input of workers from Poland
11 Jun 2006 /  #17
but in Post #10 Guest claims that there is enough jobs in Poland but most Poles just don't want to work. I agree there may be enough jobs - but 90% of them are VERY LOW PAYING jobs. Like 600-800zl a month (200-50 usd a month)

1. 600-800 PLN... It`s 800-1200 PLN this is what you get... 600-800 PLN is what`s left AFTER you`ve payed your taxes as well as your health and and social insourence... Jeez.

2. There aren`t so many 800 PLN (600 PLN according to some..) - those are the - most - basics of the manual jobs. 1200 PLN is more common ..but average is c.a. 2400.

3. 1 USD = 3 PLN so if you`re getting 800, 1200, or 2400 PLN then you`re getting c.a. 250, 400, 800 USD.. but since in AVERAGE the living costs in Poland are about 50% of those in the US.. those 250,400,800 USD are being worth here ca. 500,800 and 1600 USD..

I don`t want`t to go too far with you here - but it`s people like you who are pissing me off.. it`s people who travel abroad, where they live in unhuman conditions (if they don`t land on the street) cose they suddenly realize that the jobs in the UK or the US aren`t so well paid if you put normal living costs into account (read: a living where you you don`t have to eat hunger rations and live in a house together with 50 other people) and that if they wouldn`t live under such appealing conditions they would be able to make as much or a comparable amount of money in Poland... ...but of course "in Poland there are no jobs"
11 Jun 2006 /  #18
I can say one thing: I am living in poland, in small village - there is many unemployed peoples. I have that good looks, so my father have got own business. But many families don't have money to live normal! There is no job! If you have good look yo got job and getting about 1000 PLN. So you must pay assurance, buy books for childreans, some food, some clothes. And you haven't got very fast, and you are waiting for next screw.

many families don't live like that, some often peoples are going abroad, working there like a slave, but they then got about 4 times more money per a month!! they do it for theirs families!!!!!
11 Jun 2006 /  #19
Exacly - this is a problem - you`re one of the peasants - and you probably don`t have a lot of land. Noone`s denying that the peasants who have less than 100 ha don`t have a good living here - but please - don`t extrapolate your problems on all the people, cose you make up only some 5-10% of the population - but it`s becaouse - we - the normal people must often be ashamed while traveling abroad, becaouse - you it`s you who often end your journeys on the street or in some appealing unhuman conditions or you simply begin stealing food becaouse you want to save as much money as possible by becoming animals..

This week I`ve read an article - there are 10.000 vacancies in the tourist industry in Pomorze - but there are no people willing to apply for those jobs. How about you and people like, perhaps it would be better to apply for those jobs and at the end have a lesser pay, but not make monkeys or slaves out yourself abroad and have a decent living here. How about it. Isn`t it a good idea..

"The current unemployment rate in Poland is around 20% and climbing, thanks to the new Polish government under the new prime minister, Mr. Marcinkiewicz, that in the first three months of his reign has managed to add yet another 150,000 people to the unemployment queue."

Where do you get such stats ?

Hey fu**Report

Read this report

you pseudo-wannabe "journalist". You`d like the unemployment to rise, well guess what, it`s falling each month.
1 Oct 2006 /  #20
Dell set to create 12,000 jobs in Poland, say reports

Peter Clarke EE Times Europe 08/28/2006 2:50 PM
LONDON — U.S. computer maker Dell Inc. has reportedly selected Lodz, Poland, as the location for a 120 million euro (about $150 million) PC factory investment. It is expected to create 12,000 jobs at the factory and in related businesses and would make Dell one of the largest private employers in Poland the reports said.

Poland and Slovakia, two newcomers to the European Union, had been likely candidates to receive the inward investment. A number of news services referenced Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza as saying Poland had won the competition.

The Irish Times had hinted at this earlier in August saying Dell's proposed Polish plant's manufacturing facility would be around 600,000 square feet in size, with a 300,000 square feet supplier logistics center. Irish interest in the topic stems from the fact that Dell's only current European manufacturing plant is in Limerick, from where it exports around $12 billion of its products a year and is said to employ 3,000 people.
1 Oct 2006 /  #21
but in reality it's not 10% but almost 35%!!!

I actually laughed at this. 35%? What.the.hell. No way.
Of course, 18% is the official unemployment, but in reality it's much lower. We're doing everything we can to avoid paying ZUS :/ There are so many people unregistered as employed but they still have jobs. The truth is that it's impossible not to break a law in Poland. First the government makes stupid rules and then they pretend not to see when we break them.

Man, I love this country but I'm tempted more and more each day to just run away from here.
Kowalski 7 | 621  
1 Oct 2006 /  #22
18% is the official unemployment

16.5% is the most recent record

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